More On: Biden
Biden was so preoccupied with the Ukraine conflict that he missed Putin's progress in other important places
The president is attempting to distance himself from his own substantial contributions to record gas prices and inflation.
The White House is attempting to blame Russia's President Vladimir Putin and the invasion of Ukraine for record-high gas prices.
"You may have noticed that your gas prices have gone up this week," says White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki in a widely viewed White House video. "A lot of it is due to Vladimir Putin." President Joe Biden immediately moved themes from rising prices to patriotic sacrifice during a press conference announcing sanctions against Russia, declaring, "I stated that defending liberty would be costly. It will cost us in the United States as well." Democratic politicians are making the same point as their approval numbers plummet. According to New York Rep. Gregory Meeks, Americans should be willing to "make that kind of sacrifice because, in the long run, democracy is at stake."
Even sympathetic comedians are promoting the notion that while gas prices are rising mostly as a result of global events, the increase is worthwhile if it benefits Russia more than American consumers. "I'll pay $4.00 a gallon," Late Show host Stephen Colbert declared. "I'll pay $15 just because I drive a Tesla."
There is little doubt that the sanctions imposed by the United States and much of Europe on Russia, one of the world's top oil producers, have spooked energy markets. However, the so-called Putin Price Hike began more than a year ago. Biden can't blame Putin totally for our 8% overall inflation rate, which was last seen early in Ronald Reagan's first term. Indeed, the president and his D.C. cronies, as well as the press, dismissed inflation as a "transitory" phenomena throughout last year.
The biggest culprit is the federal government's and the Federal Reserve's huge influx of money into the economy over the last few years. Spending in Washington surged by 50% between 2019 and 2021 under both Biden and Trump. In 2019, the federal government spent $4.4 trillion (a record level). It increased to $6.6 trillion in 2020 and then to $6.8 trillion in 2021, a three-year increase never witnessed before. That's a proven method to raise the price of everything, because more dollars chase the same amount of commodities.
In terms of energy, the Biden administration has adopted a number of measures aimed at making it more expensive to produce fossil-fuel energy in order to achieve a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Indeed, environmentalists hailed Biden's aggressive efforts as "the most astonishing day in the history of America's official response to the climate issue" just a week into his presidency. According to Bill McKibben of The New Yorker, Biden's actions signified "the formal start of the end of the fossil-fuel era."
The president's actions have included blocking new drilling and lease permits on federal lands, halting the planned Keystone XL pipeline, and proposing the elimination of tax breaks for new drilling and exploration projects. He's been joined by House Democrats who have been working to tighten regulations that were lifted during the Trump administration and to impose new restrictions on oil producers. At the state level, New York's outgoing Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, outlawed fracking in 2014, while California has virtually prohibited the technique in anticipation of a 2024 prohibition.
Even when such actions have been rejected by courts or only effect future operations, Biden and the Democrats have conveyed a strong message that the future will be green, even if renewable energy sources aren't up to the challenge of meeting our energy needs. Currently, less than 13% of our energy comes from renewable sources, and even as wind, solar, hydropower, and other sustainable sources become more affordable and reliable, we're still a long way from being independent of fossil fuels.
If patriotism is a scoundrel's last resort, Biden is blaming Putin for the predicted outcomes of his and Trump's reckless spending policies. If we can't anticipate lower fuel prices anytime soon, we can at least demand an open accounting of the primary cause of inflation, the most insidious kind of taxation. After creating money to pay for federal handouts, the bill is due at the gas pump, the grocery shop, and pretty much everywhere else.
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Newscom; Sipa USA/Newscom; Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin Pool/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom; shannonpatrick17 from Swanton, Nebraska, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons; Peter Bennett / DanitaDelimont.com Photographer Danita Delimont/Newscom
"Anchor" by Florian, courtesy of Artlist.
Nick Gillespie wrote and narrated the film. Regan Taylor edited the piece.